Billy the Kid Festival brings history to life


Directed by Ross Marks, “The Trial of Billy the Kid” play brings forward courtroom action from April 6, 1881. This event breathes life into the murder Lincoln County Sheriff William Brady at the Doña Ana County Courthouse in Mesilla.

The killing of Sheriff Brady took place on the main street of Lincoln after being transferred from Lincoln to Mesilla on a change of venue. Sheriff Brady was killed during the Lincoln County War, a violent conflict that lasted almost two years.

The play makes the audience into the jury and asks, “Was the killing justified?”

The play is but one part of a three-day event; it can be seen at 7 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 24 and at 2 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 26, at the Rio Grande Theatre. On Sunday, following the play, Scott Davis presents “Remembering Pat Garrett” and then, playwright David G. Thomas will give a historical perspective about “Billy’s Murder Trial.”

Thomas is an author, historian, filmmaker, producer, actor, screenwriter and travel writer who has written numerous books on area history; most include Billy the Kid.

Channeling Henry Antrim, aka Billy the Kid, well known Las Cruces actor Nick Check takes the position of the defendant. His defense counsel, Albert J. Fountain, is played by Erik Brekke. Other local actors in the play include Ed Montes, Guillermo Portillo, Erin Wendorf and Greg Nye with Dave Edwards as the judge, Warren Bristol, and Ardy DeGani as George Bowman, the Bailiff.

On Saturday, Feb. 25, the festival presents the movie “Young Guns,” at 2 p.m. Directed by Christopher Cain, the movie follows a group of young gunmen, led by Billy the Kid as they become deputies to avenge the murder of the rancher who became their benefactor. When Billy takes their authority too far, they become the hunted.

A live musical presentation, “Sing the Legend,” begins at 7 p.m. Saturday featuring Emmy award-winner Dan Crow, Karla Steen, Steve Smith, Anne Luna and Mary Hattersley. The show features original songs about Billy the Kid, Pat Garrett, Stagecoach Mary Fields, the Fountain Mystery, Deacon Jim Miller and more.

All events take place at the Rio Grande Theatre, 211 N Main St, in Downtown Las Cruces. The ticket price is $25, which is good for entry into all events, all three days. Tickets can be purchased at the door or online at the Rio Grande Theatre web site: